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Clean Cooking Initiative

The Sunbird Bioenergy clean cooking initiative aims to displace charcoal cooking in rural Zambia with clean burning bioethanol stoves.

Africa Ethanol Fuelled Clean Cooking Stove
Africa Ethanol Fuelled Clean Cooking Stove

Why We Need Clean Cooking

Charcoal production is the leading driver of deforestation in Africa and endangers the estimated 850 million to 900 million people who use solid fuels, including charcoal and firewood for cooking on the continent. The toxic emissions from from burning charcoal are blamed for shortening the lives of more than half a million Africans every year according to data from the World Bank. Cooking without clean stoves and fuels releases toxic pollutants into the environment and endangers the health and well-being of billions across the globe.

Renewable Fuel

Bioethanol is renewable fuel that is suited to household energy is a clean-burning alcohol produced with modern distillation technology. Sunbird Bioenergy's renewable fuel project in Kawambwa, Luapula Province, will produce 120 million litres per annum of bioethanol for the domestic renewable fuel market in Zambia. The bioethanol produced will be used as a low-carbon renewable fuel for both clean cooking stoves and blending with petrol as part of Zambia's bioethanol fuel blending program (Zambia intends to implement E10 fuel blending in 2023 and E20 as soon as practical thereafter).

Ethanol Cook Stoves from Sunbird Bioenergy

Sunbird Bioenergy's Clean Cooking Initiative will provide a cleaner and cheaper alternative to cooking with charcoal. Low-cost bioethanol fuelled cook stoves and bioethanol fuel will be available for purchase directly through Sunbird and our distribution partners.

  1. Pilot Project - Kawamwba A pilot program of 20,000 clean cook stoves will be launched in Kawambwa, within the vicinity of our bioethanol plant.

  2. Expand within our region - Luapula and Northern Province We will expand our operation to supply approximately 100,000 clean cook stoves within our local and neighbouring provinces.

  3. National scale-up We will build a national bioethanol distribution network and expect to expand across Zambia.

  4. International expansion Our ambition is to distribute and supply clean cook stoves and bioethanol across the region, including to Congo and Tanzania.

It was a profound realisation that the cooking methods used by most of Africa's population have remained unchanged for thousands of years, and that the Sub-Saharan Africa region accounts for 65% of the world's charcoal production. Sunbird has the opportunity to leapfrog the fossil fuel technologies in favour of innovative renewable fuel solutions and introduce modern cleaner and cheaper cooking methods that also reduce deforestation and carbon emissions. Richard Bennett, CEO of Sunbird Bioenergy Africa.

The Market for Renewable Fuel

900 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack clean and modern cooking solutions. Without the electric stoves and piped natural gas prevalent in developed countries, they are forced to spend an estimated $47 billion billion annually on unhealthy and polluting open fires, charcoal, and kerosene. According to a World Bank report released in 2020, this generates annual social, environmental, and economic costs of more than $330 billion in Africa, while the investment required by the private sector to deliver access to modern alternatives would be only $2.6-billion per year.


Sunbird Bioenergy measures our impact against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide toward ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all.

Our Clean Cooking Initiative displaces charcoal with clean-burning ethanol and directly contributes to SDG 7 - Clean and Affordable Energy. In total, clean cooking supports 10 of the 17 SDGs, including:

  • SDG 1: No Poverty Clean cooking is necessary to leading healthy and productive lives, and it also helps consumers save time and money.

  • SDG 2: No Hunger Clean cooking reduces fuel needs, thus reducing the burden on families to collect, buy, or trade other resources, such as food, for fuel.

  • SDG 3: Good Health and Well Being Clean cooking improves health by lowering the burden of disease from exposure to household air pollution.

  • SDG 4: Quality Education Clean cooking can help children, especially girls, stay in school by reducing time spent on cooking and collecting fuel for the household.

  • SDG 5: Gender Equality Clean cooking can reduce the burden of unpaid care work, which remains a major cause of gender inequality.

  • SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth Energy access enables enhanced productivity and inclusive economic growth. A global clean cooking sector can boost job creation.

  • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Clean cooking addresses household and ambient air pollution, resource efficiency, and climate vulnerability.

  • SDG 13: Climate Action Clean cooking reduces harmful, climate- damaging emissions from burning polluting fuels in inefficient stoves.

  • SDG 15: Life on Land Clean cooking reduces the amount of wood required for cooking, thereby reducing environmental degradation and pressure on forest resources.

Reduced Carbon (CO2) Emissions

It is estimated that 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalent is produced every year from burning wood fuels, equating to about 2% of global CO2 emissions. Sunbird Bioenergy's clean cooking initiative will directly reduce deforestation by substituting charcoal with clean burning bioethanol. This will enable the creation of voluntary emission reduction (VER) credits that are available for purchase through our partner NOCOO.


Further Information about clean cooking and ethanol stoves can be found at the Clean Cooking Alliance.


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